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We Paid Cash: TWO Used Vehicles!

We paid cash!

A testimony from Keelie of Love Hope Adventure

At the end of 2014, our van developed the habit of leaving us on the side of the road. The first half dozen times we were in the shop, we were in denial about the situation. Once the denial wore off, we made a game plan of how to pay cash for a pre-owned van.

We Set a Goal of Saving $10,000

We felt that $10,000 would be enough for a used van. Unfortunately, we had barely been scraping by off of our salary.

We did have about $4,000 in savings… but that was due to extra money I earned back in 2013, and was originally being saved for a potential move.

In 2015, my husband and I both worked to increase our earnings. Since we don’t normally sell our old things, we had to get creative.

How We Earned More

I beat my head into the ground for years trying to find ways to earn money from home. Finally, I broke into the freelance writing market — and while the money I earned writing was meeting our basic needs, it wasn’t giving us the extra that we needed.

The number one thing we did to increase our earnings was to let other people know we wanted extra work. Over many months, we were offered money-making opportunities like:

  • Childcare for a MOPS group
  • After school care at a nearby child care center
  • Babysitting for different Bible studies
  • Babysitting at our home
  • Watching kids overnight
  • Increased writing assignments
  • Paid speaking engagements
  • I even had someone ask me to make a few scarves

Both my husband and I were offered ways to earn, because people knew we were looking for work.

Then We Had to Replace Both Vehicles Within a Few Months

After saving for 11 months, we hit vehicle crisis. We were driving home one night and ran into a deer with our van. Thankfully, we were fine, but our van wasn’t. The very next night, we were driving our second vehicle, and it started acting up — turns out that the transmission was starting to go on it.

We immediately started looking and found a used van that was under $9,000. Since we had saved up the $10,000 already, we were able to put the remaining money toward saving for something to replace our car.

Our current car was drivable for a few more months, but one day, we went out to start the car and it wouldn’t work. At that point, we had saved up a total of $5,000, and within a few days, we found a used car in our price range.

used cars

I’ve been very thankful that Crystal has done so much to push us to go beyond just spending frugally. She has encouraged us to find creative income-earning ideas, too. Earning more has made all the difference for us.

Keelie is married to her high school sweetheart and is the mom of three awesome boys. She is a creator and loves sharing with the world around her. One of her biggest passions is to help married couples fall deeper in love with one another. You can read her marriage tips at Love Hope Adventure.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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  • While we have two paid-off vehicles (a 2008 Escape and a 2014 Sienna minivan), we know we don’t ever want to finance another car. We put $350/month in a savings account to help replace the Escape when it dies (hopefully not for several years), so we can pay cash when the time comes.

  • Danielle says:

    Great story. Thanks for sharing!

  • Leah says:

    Hehe! I love your first sentence!! 🙂

  • Jen says:

    Great job! Always inspiring to hear about how other people deal with car issues. My husband works in a job in which he drives 1000 miles per week. The perk of this job is that is very flexible (he runs a ministry on the side that is really his passion), but the downside is that the pay isn’t great. We try and buy well cared for older used cars with about 120,000 miles on them so he can drive them for about 1-2 years before they die and we need to find another one. We always pay cash. I love that it worked out for your family to pay cash too. Once you’re done with car payments, you never want to go back!

    • I completely understand where you are coming from! My husband is the director of a food pantry which doesn’t pay much. He took on a weekend preaching job that really helped us out. I do freelance writing. Together, we are earning more than we ever have, but we have had a lot of years living off of a youth pastor’s salary.

  • Jessica says:

    In 2012, we unexpectedly got pregnant with our 3rd child and our older car was 14 years old, so we paid cash for a minivan that August. We’d been saving for a long time to do that. Then in March, 2013, my husband was driving the 2006 car to work and someone rear-ended him. He was stopped, but the impact was so great that he got pushed into the SUV 20 feet ahead of him. Our Toyota did not survive that (but he did)… we had not been planning to replace it anytime soon as it was so fuel-efficient. With the insurance, we were able to buy a brand new car and we paid off the rest with hard savings over 6 months.

  • Amanda says:

    Congratulations, that’s awesome! I’ve always been an SUV girl, but my husband prefers cars so we have a car. A couple weeks ago he came to me with a plan for how to save to pay cash for an SUV for me by next year! We only have one child right now but we also just moved 350 miles away from all our family and friends, so he decided we should get a bigger vehicle so road trips are more comfortable. Thanks for encouraging me to stick to our budget!!!

  • Melissa says:

    Our SUV is a 2006 and over 120,000 miles. Hubby thinks we can get 200,000 miles out of it but I’m not counting on it so saving $600/month for a new one. I hate the idea of financing a vehicle so we are about 3/4 of the way to the $25,000 that we’ll need for a newer (not brand new) one when the time comes. I look at a vehicle as a way to get from point A to point B…it doesn’t define who I am so as long as I take care of my older SUV and keep it clean, I’ll drive it until it dies!

    • Yeah, we wear out all of our cars, too. We have never replaced a vehicle that was still worth much, except for our Explorer. We replaced it because we were spending a ton of money in gas for my husband to commute to seminary. We reduced the gas bill by half by getting an economical car. That is the only vehicle that wasn’t completely dead when we got rid of it.

  • Kelly Cox says:

    Keelie, I love your post! I’m so glad you are sharing how paid for cars are possible! My little car has just passed 200K and I think she’s the best car on the road! We do a car replacement fund so that we can save along the way and continue to pay for our cars cash.

    Thanks for sharing this and I pray it inspires others!

  • Kelly Cox says:

    Keelie, thanks for your post! I hope it encourages others to see that debt free vehicles are possible. My little car has 200K+ miles on it and she’s the best car on the road in my opinion. 🙂

    We have a car replacement fund that we save toward so that in the future we can continue to pay cash for our cars.

    • I’ll tell you, not everyone buys their cars with cash. We had a lot of people trying to pressure us to take on car loans and hurry up to get something newer. I think most people thought we were irresponsible for driving our family around in such unreliable cars. Fortunately, we only got left on the side of roads with grass areas or parking lots, and not the interstate- even though it almost happened a time or two.

      It can be hard to save up, especially if you are struggling with your vehicle being reliable and safety concerns for your family.

  • Monica says:

    Wow! This is awesome and inspiring! My husband and I both work from home now and we have two cars which we lease that add up to over $600/month of needless spending. I’m looking forward to the leases being over so that we can pay cash for a cheaper car and break free of the debt. Thanks for sharing!

  • Rebecca says:

    We only buy older vehicles with lower miles, usually under $5,000 dollars. We did pay more for a work truck for my husband once. We are blessed because my husband has good mechanical abilities. Our $5000 dollar, 15 passenger van served us for almost 10 years with normal repairs, brakes ect. It did need the air-conditioning fixed when we got it. My husband wasn’t skilled in that area but a neighbor was. The neighbor said that the hardest part was getting to the problem. So my husband took all the seats out, the side panels off and got down to the problem for the neighbor to fix it. All he asked for pay was for my husband and daughter to spend a few hours on a Saturday doing the electrical wiring in his new garage. Such a blessing for a job that could’ve cost $1000s. But I do spend time praying about our vehicles. About 8 years with this van it developed transmission problems, finally to the point it had no reverse. I drove it that way for several weeks, being careful of where I parked, until my husband could fix it. Then one day I went out and the reverse worked! It continued to until the end. As it became apparent that we would soon need to replace it I prayed that God would supply one within our means. He did! It’s another 15 passenger one for $3000. My prayer for this van also was that the looks of it would not be embarrassing to our children. The one we had for 10yrs. had gotten to where it was embarrassing to them to have such an old looking one, it didn’t bother me. My husband spend a day or so making repairs and it has served us well for several years now. We’ve even made trips to the west coast and to the east coast. Our old van we sold, I think for $1500 dollars. We’ve also had smaller economic cars for when the whole family isn’t going we don’t pay a lot for them either. Over 20 of our 25 years of marriage we’ve lived on less than $20,000 per year. God has blessed us mightily!

  • Great Inspiration!
    We also have 2 paid for vehicles and are saving for the next one so that we are prepared.

  • Natalie says:

    Ugh. We just tried to do this for a car for our son to drive to college with, but we ended up getting a complete lemon. On the way to get it licensed the temperature gauge started acting wonky and we lost heat. Turns out we probably have a bad engine and have driven it only about 60 miles, if that. Now we are stuck with a car that is pretty much useless and no money or buyer protection.

  • Maureen says:

    I would pay cash for a good used car but with the lower interest rates on a new car I would finance it. For our family it did not make sense to take money out of an interest bearing account of 6-7 % when the interest rate on the loan was 1.5% and plus a new car depreciates. We buy them new and drive them until they are really dead

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